Hurricane Katrina: Disaster Response and Recovery


Disaster can be defined as an unexpected event; manmade or natural that can cause death or a lot of damage. (Oxford, 2000) Bureaucratic/ Hierarchical model: A hierarchical model is a form of social coordination that uses hierarchical control in a set up of unified and centralized command to help manage a series of organizations pursuing a shared goal. An incident commander sits at the top and is in charge of overseeing all the functional units that include planning, operations, logistics, and administration (Moynihan, 2009,p. 9) It is advantageous in that it has a well-defined hierarchy that includes well-established chains of command and well-delegated duties for every position, a Modular organizational structure that is expanded and contracted as needed, well set operational period and a manageable span of control (Moynihan, 2009,p. 9) However, this model is disadvantageous in a number of ways; it is very slow as the lower levels of the hierarchy have to wait for instructions from the commander and this can cause massive consequences and confusion. This can be seen in the case of hurricane Katrina, where Over 1,500 people died and tens of thousands were left without basic supplies. While the disaster was being broadcasted across the world, the situation was worse and the government responders seemed unable to provide basic protection from the ravages of nature as they waited for instructions from the higher authority like the then-mayor who waited for a week to give guidance of the hurricane (Moynihan, 2009, p.9).

The pace at which events occur can overcome the ability of the task force to establish a centralized command and maintain an understanding of events, creating high pressures for multiple commands and decentralized authority and this can lead to a delayed response to the disaster. Limited time can inhibit the ability of the responders to carefully process information and therefore act on trial and error (Moynihan, 2009, p.15). A quickly expanding chain is almost impossible to fully coordinate. During crises, more respondents are required and the number of people becomes large and hard to control and therefore, it is hard to comprehend which task should be carried out by which group of people, and hence some tasks are left unattended. Net work model for an organization: The whole organization is divided into subgroups called networks. The overall capacity of a network depends upon the capacity of its individual members which includes their knowledge, skills, relationships, and experience. Network capacity is also tied to the adequacy of resources (Moynihan, 2009, p. 24). It sees the members as having a high capacity of responding and being able to do their duties effectively. The main advantages are; if a network lacks the collective capacity to solve a task, it can expand to include new members who can provide the assistance required even though not skilled. This is so in prolonged disasters that can incorporate volunteers and this can also be applied in the case whereby there is absentia of some individuals in the network. The main limitations of this model are; it is costly to reconstruct a network during a crisis. Once there is a crisis learning about individual member weaknesses and identifying and integrating their strong points in the network can involve major failures and loss of time which can affect the rate of response to a disaster and therefore causing major consequences (Moynihan, 2009, p. 24).

It is impossible to replace some members of a network because of statutory responsibilities that can decrease the task force of that network. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the network model would not have worked due to its size. Hypothetical response scenario for the Hurricane Katrina disaster: adaptive management approach When Hurricane Katrina hit, skilled people or expatriates should have been gathered whether the hurricane was to be severe or mild. The group should have included expatriates from different fields like scientists, policymakers, and community-based organizations. Different groups should have been allocated different tasks according to their specialties. Each group should have gotten a supervisor who would have reported to the overall manager. The groups would have been involved in rescuing, safe and quick relocation of people to other places and by doing this, fewer lives would have been lost. Counselors should have been available to counsel the traumatized.

A management approach recommends for the Hurricane Katrina Disaster

Strategic management is seen as a long-term process for developing a continuing commitment to the mission and vision of an organization, nurturing a culture that identifies with and supports the mission and vision, and maintaining a clear focus on the organization’s strategic agenda throughout all its decisions, processes and activities (Choi, 2008, p.1). This approach looks forward to integrating strategic management to disaster response through thinking creatively, capacity building, goals and objectives, Identification, and working towards achieving them. Support should be increased by the government through funding and public support which can be achieved through accountability. The strategic management approach can be useful due to its successful implementation that requires time, resources, strong leadership commitment, and political support from inside and outside. It requires the participation of organizations including nonprofits or private organizations, toward the common goals of communities’ needs and demands (Choi, 2008, p.1).

References list

Donald.M. (2009). From Forest Fires to Hurricane Katrina: Case Studies of Incident Command Systems Networks. Web.

Choi, S. O. (2008), Emergency Management: Implications from a Strategic Management Perspective. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 5(1), 1-6. DOI: 10.2202/1547-7355.1372

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